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Archive for September, 2022

One of my earliest movie memories is of watching an 8mm print of Tom Mix in The Great K&A Train Robbery (1926). What a cool movie — and you certainly don’t get any cooler than Tom Mix. He was a real ranch hand, starred in well over a hundred films, got John Wayne his job in the props department at Fox, appeared in the circus and was made an honorary Texas Ranger. Quite a guy.

Scott McCrea, the pen name of a great friend of this blog, is writing a series of novels featuring Tom Mix. The first one, The Mountain Killer, is now available. I highly recommend it. Click on the cover (above) or order yours today!

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Henry Silva
(September 23, 1926 – September 14, 2022)


The great character actor Henry Silva has passed away, a few days short of his 96th birthday.

From Westerns like The Tall T (1957, above) and The Bravados (1958) to gangster pictures like Johnny Cool (1964) to Rat Pack things like Oceans 11 (1960) to a slew of foreign action movies, it was always a good sign to see Silva’s name pop up in the credits. He rarely got a role that wasn’t a villain of some sort, but when he did, he was terrific.

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Directed by Henry Hathaway
Starring Steve McQueen, Karl Malden, Brian Keith, Arthur Kennedy, Suzanne Pleshette, Martin Landau, Pat Hingle, Paul Fix, Gene Evans, John Doucette, Lyle Bettger, Ted de Corsia

It’s about time on this one! Kino Lorber is bringing Henry Hathaway’s Nevada Smith (1966) to Blu-Ray from the camera negative.

It’s a prequel to The Carpetbaggers (1964) with Steve McQueen playing a younger version of Alan Ladd’s character. It was beautifully shot by Lucien Ballard in a number of incredible locations. For 50s Western fans, its biggest appeal might be its supporting cast of great Western character actors. Highly recommended.

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Directed by William Castle
Produced by Sam Katzman
Associate Producer: Herbert Leonard
Screen Play by Arthur Lewis & DeVallon Scott
Story by DeVallon Scott
Director Of Photography: Henry Freulich, ASC
Film Editor: Al Clark, ACE
Art Director: Paul Palmentola
Musical Director: Mischa Bakaleinikoff

Cast: John Hodiak (Cochise), Robert Stack (Major Tom Burke), Joy Page (Consuelo de Cordova), Rico Alaniz (Felipe), Fortunio Bonanova (Mexican Minister), Edward Colmans (Don Francisco de Cordova), Alex Montoya (Jose Garcia), Steven Ritch (Tukiwah), Carol Thurston (Terua), Rodd Redwing (Red Knife) Robert E. Griffin (Sam Maddock), Poppy del Vando (Señora de Cordova)


Been on a big Sam Katzman kick of late, to the point I feel like a one-man Sam Katzman Blogathon — there are a number of Katzman posts in the works (here and on The Hannibal 8). This time around, it’s Conquest Of Cochise (1953), one of William Castle’s first films for Katzman’s unit at Columbia.

Coming a few years after Jeff Chandler played Cochise in Broken Arrow (1950), this time the Apache chief is played by John Hodiak. In Tucson, after the Gadsden Purchase, ranchers are being raided by the Apache and Comanche. Major Tom Burke (Robert Stack) is sent to stop the violence and establish peace with Cochise. While he’s there, Burke takes a shine to Consuelo de Cordova (Joy Page).

Cochise also wants peace, but the Comanche do not, which leads to trouble — and more trouble. Eventually, Page is captured by the Apache and held hostage, with Stack working to free her as she and Kodiak fall in love.

It’s a short picture, running just 70 minutes, with more talk than action — and Castle’s direction seems uncharacteristically stiff. The picture’s greatest asset is certainly its cast. John Hodiak is quite good as Cochise, making the usual stilted Indian-speaking-white-man’s-tongue dialogue work. It’s his movie. Robert Stack is a stoic hero here, a bit like his Elliott Ness on The Untouchables. Joy Page is lovely. She and Robert Stack had been paired in Budd Boetticher’s Bullfighter And The Lady (1951). 

The cast and crew spent a lot of time at Vasquez Rocks, about an hour from the Columbia lot — where a fairly crude painting of those same rocks awaited on a soundstage (see the above still). They also shot some stuff at Corriganville. Director Of Photography Henry Freulich captures it all in gorgeous Technicolor. As cheap as these Katzman pictures were, I’m surprised he sprung for Technicolor. The stuff wasn’t cheap.

Katzman’s cost-cutting is painfully obvious, the history is questionable, the ending is too abrupt and Castle doesn’t seem to have found much inspiration in the script he was handed. But I love it anyway.

Conquest Of Cochise was part of Sony’s MOD program, and the transfer was near-perfect. Maybe Mill Creek or Critics Choice will get around to another set of Katzman-Castle Westerns. 

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4 guns WC cropped

Directed by Richard Carlson
Starring Rory Calhoun, Colleen Miller, George Nader, Walter Brennan, Nina Foch, John McIntire

Four Guns To The Border (1954) is an excellent 50s Western from Universal International. It’s been a hard one to track down, but our friends at Explosive Media are taking care of that.It’s coming to Blu-Ray in December.

This picture gave actor Richard Carlson one of his few directing credits. He does a tremendous job. Wish he’d done more. Four Guns To The Border has a great cast, gorgeous color and will be terrific on Blu-Ray. Can’t wait!

Thanks to John Knight for the tip!

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